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Professional game development usually begins with a game design, which itself has several possible origins. The occasional game starts development with no clear game design, but as a series of experimentations. The best-selling PC game of all time, The Sims, was developed by the game designer, Will Wright, by getting programmers to experiment with several different ideas he had.

As part of the design of a game, we ensure we think about the integration of the many varying disciplines.  The following is a list of the different aspects to game design we iterate through.

  • Game Mechanics
  • Visual Arts
  • Programming
  • Production process
  • Audio
  • Narrative

Below is an idea of our programming process so you understand how we work and how we will achieve the desired results:

Prototyping

Writing prototypes of game play ideas and features is an important activity that allows programmers and game designers to experiment with different algorithms and usability scenarios for a game. A great deal of prototyping may take place during pre-production before the design document is complete and may, in fact, help determine what features the design specifies. Prototyping may also take place during active development to test new ideas as the game emerges.

Prototypes need not be developed in the target language for the game. They are meant only to act as a proof of concept or to test ideas. Most algorithms and features debuted in a prototype may be ported to the implementation language of the game once they have been completed.

Often prototypes need to be developed quickly with very little time for up-front design. Therefore usually our most prolific programmers are called upon to quickly code these test-bed tools. RAD tools are used to aid in the quick development of these programs

Game Design

Our consultants will work with you to achieve the game design and often with the input of the key programmers.  The game designer/consultant will solicit input from both the producer and the art and programming lead for ideas and strategies for the game design.

A game design is a "living document" and may go through numerous revisions before a final initial design is agreed upon. As the game development progresses, the design document changes as programming limitations and new capabilities are discovered and exploited.

Language

Once the game's initial design has been agreed upon, the development language must be decided upon. The choice depends upon many factors, such as language familiarity of the programming staff, target platforms (such as Sony PlayStation or Microsoft Windows), the execution speed requirements and the language of any game engines, APIs or libraries being used.

Today, because it is object oriented and compiles to binary (the native language of the target platform), the most popular game development language is C++ and this is what we leverage most in our game projects. However, where required, Java and C are also used by our team to develop games. Assembly language is necessary for some video game console programming and in some routines that need to be as fast as possible, or require very little overhead. We tend to stay away from fringe languages such as C#, Ada and Python since these languages have had very little impact upon the industry and are primarily used by hobbyists familiar with the languages.

We are more and more adapting to high-level scripting languages for embedded extensions to the underlying games written in a low or mid-level programming language such as C++. With the creation of custom languages, such as QuakeC and UnrealScript.

API's and Libraries

A key decision we make in game programming is which, if any, APIs and libraries to use. Today, there are numerous libraries available which take care of key tasks of game programming. Some libraries can handle sound processing, input, and graphics rendering. Some can even handle some AI tasks such as path finding.

Which APIs and libraries we choose depends largely on the target platform. For example, libraries for PlayStation 2 development are not available for Microsoft Windows and vice-versa. However, there are game frameworks available that allow or ease cross-platform development, so we can program a game in a single language and have the game run on several platforms, such as the Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox, PSP and Microsoft Windows. Using a portable language can also provide portability.

Graphic API's

Today, graphics are a key defining feature of most games. All games we develop now boast full 3D graphics and of course 2D graphics where required.

The most popular personal computer target platform is Microsoft Windows. Since it comes pre-installed on almost ninety percent of PCs sold, it has an enormous user base. The two most popular 3D graphics APIs for Microsoft Windows are DirectX and OpenGL. The benefits and weaknesses of each API are hotly debated among Windows game programmers. Both are natively supported on most modern 3D hardware for the PC.

Production

During production, our programmers churn out a great deal of source code to create the game described in the game's design document. Along the way, the design document is modified to meet limitations or expanded to exploit new features. The design document is very much a "living document" much of whose life is dictated by programmer's schedules, talent and resourcefulness.

Milestones

We track all game design and development via milestones. A milestone is a point in development where the emerging game will have an agreed upon set of features and assets.

Maintenance

Everything we develop has a maintenance period built in so you can rest assured that when you release your game, we will be at hand to ensure nothing goes wrong.  What's more, we don't release anything until our games testing team have fully tested each release over and over making sure there are no bugs in the game.

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